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Game Predictions | Bills at Dolphins | Week 18


The Buffalo Bills (10-6) are 3.0-point favorites heading into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins (11-5) at Hard Rock Stadium. The game will air at 8:20 pm on NBC.

For the latest point spreads, check FanDuel.

The Bills currently sit in the sixth place in the AFC. With a win, the Bills will win the AFC East division title for the fourth consecutive season and secure the No. 2 seed in the 2023 AFC playoffs. The Bills can also clinch a playoff spot with a Pittsburgh (9-7) loss to Baltimore (13-3) (Saturday, 4:30 pm) or a Jacksonville (9-7) loss to Tennessee (5-11) (Sunday, 1 pm). Click here for a list of all the clinching scenarios for Week 18.

With a win, the Miami Dolphins will win the AFC East. They have not won a division title since 2008.

Here's a list of additional notes for this week ...

  • Buffalo is on a four-game winning streak
  • Miami has lost two of its last four games
  • Miami is 7-1 at home in 2023
  • The Bills have won nine of their last 10 games against Miami since 2018
  • Sean McDermott is 12-2 against Miami (including playoffs)
  • Miami is 4-7 in December/January games the past two seasons
  • Miami is 1-4 against teams with winning records in 2023
  • Bills are 16-0 when Josh Allen does not have a turnover since 2020
  • With a win, the Bills will have 11 wins for the fourth consecutive season - tying a franchise record (1990-93)
  • Bills have a 13-game winning streak in December/January regular season games since 2020; it's the longest active streak in the NFL

Storyline to watch: The Dolphins don't expect cornerback Xavien Howard to play Sunday against the Bills, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wouldn't reveal whether he would have Pro Bowl CB Jalen Ramsey shadow Bills WR Stefon Diggs -- who torched Miami for 120 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4 -- or have him match up with multiple receivers. Considering Eli Apple's struggles against Baltimore in Week 17 (three catches, 104 yards and a touchdown allowed in coverage), where Ramsey lines up will be something to watch. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Bold prediction: Diggs will have his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 6 and catch multiple touchdown passes for the second time this season. The production between Diggs and quarterback Josh Allen just hasn't been consistent for a significant portion of the season, but with the Dolphins' secondary in a state of flux due to injuries, Diggs will have one of his biggest outings of the year at a time when the Bills really need it. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Stat to know: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa enters Week 18 leading the NFL in completion rate (69.6%) and passing yards (4,451). Tagovailoa is looking to become the eighth QB since the 1970 merger to lead the NFL in both completion rate and passing yards -- and the first since Drew Brees in 2011.

Matchup X factor: Allen. By his own admission he played poorly in Week 17. Buffalo needs him at his best against the Dolphins. If they get it, the Bills will have a great shot at the AFC East crown. -- Walder

What's at stake: Winner takes the AFC East and the conference's No. 2 seed. But while Miami is in no matter what, Buffalo could miss the playoffs if it loses. To make the playoffs in that scenario, it would need either a Jaguars loss, a Steelers loss or a Texans-Colts tie.

What to know for fantasy: In the past three games, the Bills' defense has given up the second-fewest passing yards per game, so Tagovailoa could struggle. He hasn't scored 20 fantasy points in a game since a Week 8 win over the Patriots.

Betting nugget: The Dolphins are 1-4 ATS this season against teams currently with winning records.

Moody's pick: Bills 31, Dolphins 27

Walder's pick: Dolphins 27, Bills 21

FPI prediction: BUF, 54.3% (by an average of 1.5 points)

The winner wins the AFC East. The Bills and Josh Allen have dominated Miami in Allen's career, and I don't see that changing here. Look for a big game from Allen against a defense that is banged up. The Bills win it.

Pick: Bills 30, Dolphins 23

The Bills have won four consecutive games to surge into playoff position after a disappointing .500 start through midseason. But they haven't clinched anything thanks to three teams (Colts, Texans, Steelers) staying on their heels at 9-7. They now face a high-stakes opportunity to sweep the Dolphins and take their fourth consecutive AFC East title.

Buffalo won't pass it up, as it has the overall offensive momentum with James Cook boosting Josh Allen and their defensive making big plays against a rival reeling because of injuries. Tua Tagovailoa will remain shellshocked from the Ravens rout.

Pick: Bills win 24-20 and cover the spread.

Both teams have had their struggles. For Miami, the injuries and last week's blowout in Baltimore might be too much to overcome.

Florio: Bills, 28-20.

Simms: Bills, 27-21.

The winner of this one takes the AFC East. If the Bills lose, they can still get in as a wild-card team with a Steelers loss or a Jaguars loss. But if both those teams win, the Bills are out of the playoffs entirely. They could be a 2-seed, or they could be on vacation next week.

The Dolphins have already clinched a playoff spot, but a win here means the 2-seed and potentially just one road playoff game en route to the Super Bowl. A loss means the 6-seed and a trip to Kansas City in the first round. I like this Miami team, but it's hard to ignore how much it's struggled against good teams. The Dolphins have played five games against teams that are currently projected to make the playoffs: the Bills, Eagles, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Ravens. They are 1-4 in those games, including a loss to Buffalo in Week 4, and three of the losses have been by double digits. They're banged up on defense and could be without wide receiver Jaylen Waddle once again.

I don't trust the Bills, but I'm reluctantly rolling with them here.

The pick: Bills (-2.5)

The Buffalo Bills have won four in a row and five of their last six, pushing themselves back into the playoff picture. If Buffalo wins this game, it will be AFC's No. 2 seed. If the Bills lose this game, there are scenarios where they won't make the playoffs.

Buffalo beat Miami 48-20 in Week 4.

At full strength, the Miami Dolphins are a supremely talented team with great play-callers on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, the Dolphins are managing a litany of injuries that are turning them into a less capable team.

A few key players on offense are questionable for this game, but Miami's defense has been hit hard. The Dolphins will be without both of their starting edge rushers and, likely, CB Xavien Howard. LB Jerome Baker is still on injured reserve, meaning Miami could be down four of its best seven defenders.

If the Dolphins win, they finish the year as AFC East champions and the No. 2 seed in the conference. That said, they are three-point home underdogs for a reason.

Score Prediction: Bills 27, Dolphins 23

The NFL is saving its best for last. The final regular-season game of the 2023 season will feature the Bills playing the Dolphins with the AFC East title on the line. There could also be some extra drama in this game if both the Jaguars and Steelers win in Week 18: If that happens, then the Bills will be in a situation where a win gives them the division title, but a loss LEAVES them OUT of the playoffs altogether.

I repeat: The Bills could be in a spot where a win gives them the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but a loss would drop them COMPLETELY out of the playoffs. On the Dolphins' end, they don't have to worry about getting left out, because they've already clinched a playoff spot. Going into this game, the Dolphins know they'll get the two seed with a win or the sixth seed with a loss.

The thing about the Dolphins is that if they could have hand-picked their opponent for this game, I'm pretty sure the Bills would have been their last choice. The Dolphins are 1-10 in their past 11 games against the Bills and that's mostly because they can't figure how to slow down Josh Allen.

The Bills quarterback has thrown at least TWO touchdown passes in his past 12 games against the Dolphins, which is the longest streak by any QB against one team in NFL history. Back in Week 4, Allen threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-20 win over the Dolphins and I won't be surprised if he doubles those numbers on Sunday night.

The Dolphins could go all-in to try and stop the pass, but that could actually make things worse considering the Bills are averaging 130.7 yards per game on the ground, which ranks seventh in the NFL. The Dolphins have played three teams this season against teams that rank in the top-seven in rushing yards and not only have they gone 0-3 in those games, but they've been outscored by an average score of 45 to 18.6.

The Bills are one of the hottest teams in football, they haven't lost in more than a month and there's no team Josh Allen loves beating more than Miami. The Dolphins are banged up right now and they just lost Bradley Chubb to a torn ACL and I think what I'm trying to say here is that I don't feel good about Miami's chances this week.

The pick: Bills 34-24 over Dolphins

I don't think the Bills came all this way just to lose to the Dolphins with a division title on the line. The Dolphins have a lot of injuries and despite the win over the Cowboys, I still have questions about them vs. top competition.

Pick: Bills -3

Why Gennaro is taking the Bills: Every NFL campaign is a war of attrition. And as we head into the 272nd and final game of the 2023 regular season -- a de facto AFC East title bout -- one team is losing the battle. While Buffalo encountered a vicious injury bug in October -- losing critical pieces on all three levels of the defense -- the Bills weathered the storm and now seem like they've come out on the other side. Yeah, star QB Josh Allen's a little banged up, but by and large, this feels like the healthiest Buffalo has been since September. The same cannot be said about Miami. The team's two star edge rushers -- Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips -- are on injured reserve. The offensive line has been a MASH unit all season. And Wednesday's injury report was a depressingly star-studded list. Long story short, the Dolphins are limping into the playoffs, while the Bills are surging down the stretch with a four-game win streak in tow.

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